I have a son, 24-years old and other than a year of living in a college dorm has always lived at home. In a little over a month he is scheduled to move to Central Asia for 2 years of college there. I am torn.
On one hand, I’m excited for him! What an adventure! I’m sure he’s going to learn a lot and grow in leaps and bounds as a man. I may not even recognize him when he comes back. On the other hand, I’m freaking out! Central Asia?! That’s the other side of the world! Is he at all prepared for this? How often will I even hear from him? Holidays and his birthday without him for the first time in 24-years, how will I cope? How will this family cope?
I don’t really know the answers to those questions other than, “by the grace of God”. I have been very blessed to have had this young man so close for so long. Even when he was living in the dorms at college, he was only 10 minutes away. I believe he is in God’s will in this latest venture, so I believe God will see us all through it. That doesn’t mean that this mama’s heart isn’t going to hurt. Shoot, I’d drop him off at college (he didn’t drive until after his freshmen year), watch him walk away and flash back to his first day of kindergarten and start crying. I’m kinda pathetic when it comes to my kids, especially my boys.
Don’t misunderstand. My sons are not mama’s boys by any means, especially this one. He couldn’t wait to move into his dorm freshman year and only moved home for his sophomore year because it was “financially prudent”. He gets impatient with me when I display any clinginess of my own. He’s been chomping at the bit to move out for quite awhile. He is, however, a pragmatist and usually chooses the more practical way of doing things and leaving home has yet to be practical for him. He decided on this path to Central Asia and it required finances – a lot of them. Living at home and saving his money seemed the practical thing to do.
We always told him that as long as he was working or going to school, we were okay with him being here. We also told him that unless he was in school, he would be paying rent, and for a time, he did just that. His dad and I decided to make an exception though, and help him prepare for his trip by letting him live with us rent free. Which made the decision to live at home even more practical.
I’m sure everyone has their own opinion about our decision to let our son live at home rent free, or even to charge him rent in the first place. That’s not what this post is about though. It’s about separating from our children when it’s time. The time will inevitably come. Just like there are differing opinions about rocking your children to sleep, or holding them too much. I have learned from experience to hold on to every second I have with my children. I rocked them to sleep when they were little. I held them every chance I got and it still wasn’t enough. The day still came when they didn’t want me to hold them anymore, or hug them in public, or be affectionate at all at times.
It doesn’t matter how old they are when they “finally” leave home. They all leave when they’re ready and that’s the perfect time. As long as we’re not enabling them to avoid the real world, or doing whatever we can to keep them at home because WE can’t let go. It’s a difficult balance to maintain sometimes, but not impossible. My son went to college, he worked, he is active in church and out in the “real world” except for where he resides. For the most part, we have maintained the balance – not enabling and not clinging – and done a fairly decent job in my mind.
I think it’s interesting that he’s been living at home for so long and now that he’s preparing to leave, it’s going to be an epic “leave” to the other side of the world. We won’t see him for at least two years. It’s going to be hard and I’ll have 24-years of memories to help me get through it, as well as the support of my husband. I also have 3 other children and 5 grandchildren to keep me busy. Most importantly though, I have the amazing grace of my loving God who has blessed me so incredibly!